By Guest Blogger Alison Luterman (Plus a poem!) – with my video commentary on how to make a movement go viral — from Erica Mandy’s Show, The News Worthy
I was walking up the street minding my own business when a superhero jumped out in front of me. He landed in a wide-legged stance, arms outstretched, head thrown back in true Olympic superhero style. He was about three feet high and was wearing sneakers that lit up with flashing lights when he moved.
“I’m magic!” he announced.
“You are magic–I can see that!” I said.
It had been two weeks since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and I was still in a funky mood. Events, both national and personal, had been clouding my ability to see the magic in life. But here it was, on a bright Tuesday afternoon when the dogwood was blooming.
“I’m also the fastest runner,” the super-hero went on. “Wanna see?”
He tore up the sidewalk, his sneakers flashing.
“Wow, you are super fast!!” His Dad was leaning up against the family SUV, chuckling.
“He’s actually the fastest runner in the world,” he clarified. “It’s not everyday you get to see something like that. I can understand if you’re overwhelmed.”
I put my hand on my heart and staggered back. “It’s going to take me awhile to recover.”
In truth I hope never to recover from the magic of children. It may be our only hope as a species.
Like so many other people, I’m still blown away by the power of the young students speaking up now for gun control, especially Emma Gonzalez, the shaven-headed, bisexual, Latinx student (president of her school’s Gay-Straight Student Alliance), who rose up out of the smoke and spilled blood of the Parkland massacre, and has been speaking truth to power like a lioness.
If you haven’t seen the video of her making an impassioned plea for gun control while wiping away tears–weeping freely, but making her points with fierce accuracy, including the amount of money the Great Pretender accepted from the NRA for his campaign–go watch it. (Spoiler alert: 30 million dollars.)
Watch the way she feels deeply, but also has facts and figures at her command, and uses them. That’s not easy. When I’m crying my voice shakes, or it knots up in my throat, my chin quivers uncontrollably, and I feel foolish and naked. I’d prefer to hide under the bed than let people see me like that.
But it’s the job in front of us right now–all of us. Find our deepest feelings and speak from that vulnerable, exposed place.
It turns out many of the young activists effectively challenging Senators and Congress are drama club kids. I was a drama club kid. It was the ultimate safe space for queer kids, outcasts, weirdos. The energy and passion, the intense bonding love that gets generated backstage can be used for so many good things. You can put on a play, you can read your poetry at an open mic, you can start a movement and take your message to Congress.
Art teaches us to be brave. And we need a lot of courage these days. And a lot of love. Hold your friends and companions, fellow-artists, fellow-activists, children and the young at heart extra tightly. And don’t stop speaking truth to power even if it makes you cry.
Watching the Giraffes
The baby giraffe stands
in the shadow of the tall
both of their astonishing
with a perfect mosaic pattern
like kitchen linoleum.
How close the gods come to
Then the tallest one
who has been gazing off into
his small head atop that
like a long lonesome train
high above everything,
lets loose a Niagara of
and another giraffe ducks
a swanlike neck down,
to catch a deep, hot
mouthful of urine,then undulates back up,
gulping and swallowing.So that too is part of it.
How they take
what they are thirsty for
as I am drinking in the gentle
of the child’s small trusting
leaning against my arm
on the bench at the zoo,
both of us watching the
without saying anything.
Alison Luterman’s three books of poetry are The Largest Possible Life; See How We Almost Fly; and Desire Zoo. Her poems and stories have appeared in The Sun, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, The Atlanta Review, Tattoo Highway, and elsewhere.. She has also written an e-book of personal essays, Feral City, and more than half a dozen plays, including Oasis, Saying Kaddish With My Sister, Glitter and Spew, Touched, and two musicals, The Chain and Nasty Women. She performs with the Oakland-based improvisation troupe Wing It! and has given writing workshops all over the country, including at Omega and Esalen Institutes.
She teaches memoir at The Writing Salon in Berkeley, and is available for private coaching in writing or creativity, both in-person or on-line. She also loves to teach easy accessible theater games and writing prompts to groups. For more information, please visit her website at www.alisonluterman.net.
Getting media attention – especially the right kind of attention – is something of an art. Whether you’re a celebrity, a business owner, or a politician, it’s all about finding an angle. And not just that – you have to be able to get a reporter’s attention in the first place. This can be easier said than done.
Bear in mind that reporters and media journalists are solicited hundreds of times a day. Their email inboxes are virtually overflowing. So if you want their attention, you need to go about it in the right way. You need to stand out from the crowd – even if that means taking an unconventional approach.
Google is an amazing resource to unearth useful information about the reporter, what they cover, and how they like to be approached.
A good place to start your ‘Googleathon’ is social media. See how they interact with others online, and whether they regularly interact with others pitching them ideas. You can also look to their work bio to see if they specify preferences.
There are different schools of thought on the best way to approach a reporter with an idea for a story. They may prefer email, Twitter, or a good old-fashioned phone call. In the unlikely event that they aren’t present on social media, you can defer to phone or email.
HOT TIP: look out for any pet peeves they regularly complain about. Take note as well of the current issues that they’re tweeting or retweeting. See if there’s any common ground you can use to help build a connection. Maybe you have a product that might help? Or maybe you feel the same way about a social issue?
Ultimately, if you already have a feel for the reporter and what s/he likes and dislikes, you have a better chance of reaching out to them successfully.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that attempting to reach out and get the attention of a reporter is much like modern dating. Thanks to online dating, we often have a chance to find out about someone before we decide to approach them. When we do decide to make a move, the opening line is critical.
Tinder lines can be hilariously terrible. They can also be downright dull. Mastering the art of a good opener is paramount if you’re serious about looking for love online. And if you’re serious about getting your story picked up by the media, then it’s equally crucial.
‘Hey, how are you?’ is a great way to get ignored by a journalist. It does nothing to spark their curiosity. It lacks creativity and fails to disclose your reason for getting in touch.
Powerful subject lines for an opening email are:
Remember, your pitch must immediately rouse the reporter’s interest. An effective subject line really is half the challenge. Check out these top 10 email subject line formulas for inspiration. You may be surprised to learn that in some cases, “profanity f*cking works”.
Journalists also love data — so put your best foot forwards and give them some awesome data for free. Running an ecommerce business? Why not send out some surveys to your customers via social media and email to find out more about their habits? From family life and holidays, to food habits and leisure — there are plenty of useful insights and stories lurking out there.
Play it cool
Yep – the online dating metaphor still stands. When you’re building a relationship with a reporter, timing is important. Journalists are busy people with full schedules, and your clinginess will not be appealing to them.
Be respectful of what the reporter already has on their plate. Realize that when you send them a pitch, they’re probably not going to be able to respond right away – unless you’re very lucky and caught them at exactly the right moment. Give them at least a few days to respond before following up.
If the story is especially time-sensitive, then you need to make this clear when you reach out to them first time around. Conveying urgency is another great way to get a reporter’s attention.
weird ways to get a reporter’s attention. source: pexels
Send them a video
Video is changing how we create and consume news. Journalists know it, and if you can help them source quality video content, then they’re going to be very happy with you indeed. Here in 2017, video content represents 74% of all internet traffic (Source).
So if you want to give your story a boost and make it more likely to hit the headlines, consider sending a video along with your pitch. 4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it – and the same goes for news stories. News publications love video because it encourages readers to stay on the page for longer.
Making a vaguely professional-looking video doesn’t have to be hard. There are lots of great apps out there for making videos, including iMovie, PowerDirector, and LumaFusion.
Be willing to let it go
With time stacked against them, most reporters will probably require a follow-up a few days after you’ve pitched them your story. In most instances, they’ll probably appreciate the reminder — always with added ‘new’ information that’s of value to them — not, “Did you get my email about…”.
However, if you’ve already chased them a couple of times and received nothing but stony silence in return, you might need to try a different approach, angle, or twist on the topic. You can also ask if your pitch might be a better fit with someone else at their organization.
The risk is that you may not necessarily get the answer you’re looking for. But by putting it out there in a gentle way, such as “seems like this wasn’t a perfect fit for you – unless I hear otherwise, I will run a different idea by you soon.
If you are looking to promote something time-sensitive like a product launch or a new ecommerce venture, you are going to have to plan ahead and be mindful of editorial deadlines you can tell them that you’re offering it to them first. And if they pass you can move on to the next top person on your media list. Whether you build a store from the ground up, or invest in a readymade one, make sure that your branding and content is on-point enough to appeal to busy journos. A good pitch from a badly formulated brand may go to waste — so make sure you cover all bases.
Of course, if all else fails, and you really will stop at nothing to get that reporter’s attention, you can try one the following:
Hire a banana costume and do a little dance outside their office window
Pay a movie theater to play a pre-recorded video of your pitch after the ads at a movie you know they’re going to see (because they posted about it on social media)
Accidentally bump into them on the bus while holding a basket of kittens
Heroically save them from falling into a pond
Disclaimer: These methods are not tried and tested. I hold no responsibility for them going wrong.
We need the attention of reporters for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you’re trying to make a story or piece of content go viral. Perhaps you just bought an online business and you want brand coverage. Possibly you’ve found yourself in the public’s bad books, and you need a bit of good publicity. Whatever the reason, it helps to know how to go about it. Hopefully these suggestions have been useful.
Vicky is a freelance writer and ecommerce marketing consultant. She loves being part of the brand growth hacking process and producing real, measurable results. In her spare time, Vicky shares her knowledge by writing for a variety of digital publications.
I thought, for a bit, that I should really title this post ‘How To Network With Bloggers’ – because, you know, SEO and what not.
But the word ‘networking’ feels intimidating and overwhelming and slightly gross. Eating subpar appetizers while someone shoves their business card in my face and shrieks their elevator pitch? No. Sharing super useful advice/client referrals/traffic/cream cheese wontons with someone who I connect with, like, AS A HUMAN BEING? Yes.
Really? Networking is mostly just making friends. And if you approach it as such (and think about what you can bring to the table, rather than what you can get from an interaction) you’ll be befriending bloggers left, right, and all over Twitter.
If there are any bloggers you’d like to collaborate with/pitch/take to coffee, here are a few things that you should do before you drop into their inbox.
6 ways to befriend bloggers
1. Leave productive, smart, helpful comments on their blog
No matter how big and famous they are, bloggers read their comments and if you’re regularly saying awesome things, they’ll start to remember you. Of course, some blogs and posts engender better commentary – it’s hard to leave a mind-blowing comment on an outfit post. But personal essays, tutorials, or thought-provoking posts are an opportunity to chime in.
Also: make sure that the icon that shows up when you leave a comment matches the headshot on your blog and the icon for your Twitter profile, otherwise it’ll be hard for the blogger to recognize you.
2. Interact with them on social media
Respond to the comments, answer their questions, ask them questions, send them links you think they’d like. Just the same way you’d do with a friend.
My readers know my painfully, awkwardly well. Three different people sent me a link to this inflatable cat unicorn headband and two people sent me links to Macklemore’s Thrift shop song. And I loved it. And I totally remember who sent me those links. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the people you like and admire with information that you think they’d find helpful.
5. If you’re going to pitch them, triple check that what you’re pitching is a good fit
Do they host guest posts? Do they offer giveaways? What is the monetary value of those giveaways? Do they review products? Do they use c/o items in their outfits posts? It would be a pity to waste your time (and theirs) crafting the perfect pitch email and then sending it to the wrong person or the wrong type of blog.
6. Avoid doing any of these annoying things
Just like in real life, sometimes friendship is about Not Being Annoying. I promise i’ll pay you that money I owe you, I won’t share that secret with So-and-so, and I won’t have four drinks when I promised to be the designated driver.
Here are some things you should avoid doing:
Misspelling their name
Sending them a template email
Asking them about anything you could Google
Asking them to locate a post they wrote
Writing an email that is more than two paragraphs long
I’d love to hear from you, bloggers! How do you like to be treated? How do you network and befriend other bloggers? Small businesses, tell us about your interactions with bloggers!
It’s fair to say that America is a fairly divided place right now, with wildly differing ideas about what’s right and wrong. Whatever your views, our blundering, boastful President does seem to have mastered one thing, and that’s showmanship. As he appoints more than a few questionable characters to office, many of us remain distracted by the latest inflammatory statements he’s made on Twitter, or by what’s going on with Celebrity Apprentice. As intelligent entrepreneurs and business owners, here are 8 lessons we can learn from his strengths and weaknesses when it comes to courting publicity.
PR is rooted in positive relationships
Most CEOs respect PR, or at least understand its function. Whatever their feelings towards it, they accept that in positions of high power or visibility, it is necessary. For better or worse, Trump is not most CEOs.
Donald has yet to realize that at the root of PR is a carefully tended network of positive relationships, built on clear and transparent communication. He mistakenly considers himself an ‘expert’ PR person, despite his total lack of tact, sensitivity, or awareness. Let’s not forget, he appointed a hedge fund manager to run his communications office.
For the life of him, Trump cannot seem to hold on to a PR chief, and the reason is quite simple – no self-respecting, professional PR person wants to work for a boss who thinks he can do better, and who will publicly shame you for trying to do your job.
How to apply: Dale Carnegie says in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People: “If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Beehive”. In other words, an aggressive approach will get you nowhere. He also says that “Winning friends begins with friendliness” – another simple yet oft forgotten pearl of wisdom. Take a look at this list of the 100 Most Trusted People in America. They are well-liked, charismatic, and many of them are actors. Interestingly, none of them are TV bullies.
Sometimes you need to take an unconventional approach
Some believe that Richard Nixon lost the 1960 presidential race due to his poor TV presence, compared to JFK, who understood the power of the medium. Trump is, of course, no stranger to television, having perhaps more experience with it than any other presidential candidate in history. Throughout his election campaign, he consistently eschewed conventional politics in favor of sensationalism and sound bites, in contrast to Hillary’s more measured approach.
What’s more, while Clinton worked to secure votes across all demographics, Trump lasered in on a specific target audience – white, working class men who had been feeling less represented under the previous Democrat government. In marketing we are often advised to ‘find our niche’, and it seems that the same could be true of politics.
How to apply: There are lots of ways to get unconventional with PR, though it’s no guarantee that just because your campaign is unconventional, it will be a success. From publicity stunts and viral videos, to riding trends and putting out crowdsourcing content, the internet has made it much easier to be imaginative. Check out these Timeless Creative PR Ideas.
If you fake it, you’ll probably get found out
Earlier in Trump’s career, several New York reporters spoke with a John Miller or a John Barron – two supposed PR men who sounded suspiciously like Trump himself. Miller and Barron were particularly insightful, sharing detailed explanations for Trump’s actions and love life, all the while presenting him in the most favorable light possible. You can read the full transcript of one of John Miller’s interviews here.
Of course, these strangely forthcoming sources were none other than Trump himself, and if you read or listen to the interviews, it is startlingly, ridiculously apparent. At one point, he even forgets to speak in the third person. The lesson here? It should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: don’t pose as your own publicist and expect to get away with it. Oh – and the tan isn’t real either.
How to apply: It’s fairly straightforward really – just be honest and authentic about who you are and what you do. If you don’t fake it in the first place, you don’t get found out. Lance Armstrong was a celebrated road racing cyclist who many people admired, until the doping scandal came out. Likewise, Tonya Harding was a famous figure skater, whose career was left in tatters after she hired a thug to break her rival’s leg. The public hates a cheater, so keep your record squeaky clean.
You must be willing to listen to advice
PR professionals are much like counselors. Their job is to advise the client on the most effective approach to communications, if they want to achieve certain goals. They are a valuable asset to the team, and a smart client will realize the importance of listening to their advice, even if they end up taking a slightly different course of action. A sensible business owner will involve their PR person in all big-picture discussions.
The thing about Trump is, he really doesn’t want anyone’s advice. He wants to do his own thing and he thinks he’s got PR sussed. When Spicer worked at the White House, he griped about his limited access to the President, yet was still blamed when things went wrong.
How to apply: Benjamin Franklin said that “wise men don’t need advice – fools won’t take it”. If you’re attempting to navigate the choppy waters of publicity, it’s better to do it with a legitimate expert at your side. Part of a PR practitioner’s role is to train their clients to effectively face the media, as well as making their client’s reputation as strong as possible. Ultimately, they help to keep you focused and moving towards your goals – with the force of the media on side.
The celebrity phenomenon
Whether your feelings towards Trump are mild or extreme, it can’t be denied that he is something of a sensation. For better or worse (and likely worse), we’ve never had a figure quite like him on America’s political stage. We now live firmly in a culture of celebrity, and Trump – a longstanding TV star and populist bigmouth – is known by everyone. It shouldn’t really come into the equation when you’re running for President – yet it does.
Why? Because with their deity-like status, we listen to what celebrities have to say. So in 21st century America, should we be surprised that a celebrity has managed to become President? It’s wall-to-wall (pun intended) publicity, be it good or bad. Whether you love or despise Trump, he remains a popular topic of conversation – and that’s just what he wants.
How to apply: So how can you find ways to keep people interested in you? To enjoy the kind of engagement that Trump gets online and in the media, it’s all about being engaging and having a stance or opinion that people relate to. Today’s consumers are discerning about which brands deserve their time and attention. Don’t be afraid to start discussions, and fan the flames to keep them going. Experiment to find out what resonates with your audience, and mix up your timing, language, and use of imagery.
He tells it like (he thinks) it is
Trump doesn’t speak the political tongue. Everybody knows that – just look at his Twitter feed. Instead, he seems to say whatever comes into his head, without much of a filter to speak of. Agree with him or not, you always get the jist of what he’s saying. Some politicians do themselves a disservice when they speak in political jargon, alienating the less articulate voters.
Honestly counts for something in PR, even – or especially – if that honesty is controversial. Trump’s followers love him for his willingness to tackle any subject, in particular those that more seasoned politicians dance around.
How to apply: We want your perspective on what matters to you and why it’s important to your audience. Your strong opinion about a topic you care about sets you apart from your competitors who may have a different take – and sets you up as a thought leader. News shows are made up of people proffering different opinions on a topic then backing those opinions with facts, research, or other evidence.
Pick an enemy (or several)
Branding experts will often tell you to identify an enemy and position against them. That enemy doesn’t have to be a person, it could be a system, a state of the world, an injustice, or an opinion. The world’s top brands all have distinct enemies – and Trump is a brand too.
At this point, Trump has made many enemies, and he has a habit of calling them out and going after them. Choosing an enemy gives your campaign a focus – it’s the classic scenario of ‘us vs. them’ that galvanizes large groups of people into action. It’s a great tactic for businesses. Is it a good one for politics? It’s certainly been successful at getting Trump into office, but as to the effects on society and the world, it all starts to feel like a dark and dangerous road.
How to apply: So every brand or personality needs an enemy, but that doesn’t have to be a competitor. It could just as easily be an idea. A nutritionist might position processed food corporations as ‘the enemy’. A pro web designer might frame DIY website builders as ‘the enemy’. For an artisan coffee shop, it might be instant coffee. Whether it’s a belief, an assumption, or a rival business, every beloved brand has something to push against and rally behind.
If you don’t have the instinct for it, leave it to the professionals
Anthony Scaramucci has said that Trump has ‘excellent public relations instincts’. So is that true? He certainly represents something different, and something different – especially in politics – is pretty irresistible. But I would argue that overall, Trump’s PR instincts are fumbling at best, and volatile at worst. And they appear to be getting worse. His weeklong assault on his own attorney general in July was apparently ‘all his idea’. Good one.
Trump is used to the selective media exposure granted by his TV lifestyle, but as President, you are on show 24/7. PR decisions are more critical than ever. The best bosses understand their own strengths and weaknesses, but Trump’s inflated view of himself means he won’t listen to others. From a PR perspective, it will be interesting to see where his ego leads him over the course of his time in office.
Trump famously exaggerates, but if you’re looking to implement his tactics into your own business PR campaign, maybe think twice. Exaggeration and dishonesty are no way to do business – and you will be found out eventually. If you’re trying to get more media attention for your business, here are some good guidelines. What we can take away from his success is the importance of picking an enemy, leveraging social channels, being true to yourself, and being memorable. But we can also learn to become better listeners, better bosses, and better people.
Vicky is a freelance writer and ecommerce marketing consultant. She loves following politics and drawing lessons that can be beneficial in other areas. In her spare time, Vicky shares her knowledge by writing for a variety of digital publications.
I’m in a tizzy right now. I have an unknown, itchy red rash under my arm. My stomach is upset and bloated. And my office has a giant pile of clothes on a chair I’ve been meaning to take to the consignment store, but haven’t. When I want to shift something, I clean out. But sometimes, the shift doesn’t come soon enough. And stuff piles up.
While I continue to consult with some amazing and talented clients, at the same time I’m also moving into a new direction with my True Shield: Verbal Self-Defense For Girls. So I have a foot in both worlds — which can sometimes be crazy making. Like worried nights pacing and writing at 3:00 am, searching for that roll of sweet tarts I have in the laundry room cupboard for such emergencies.
For one thing, I didn’t really realize that I was a start-up. But that’s what I am. I have a business with no track record for a new idea.
Verbal self-defense for girls
I have all the measurements in place, but have yet to have anyone complete the program. Everyone in the schools and organizations who have purchased it is starting in August or September and while it will take me just 3 months or so to get initial statistics and evidence-based results it will take me about 9 months to get a full picture of all the survey results.
That’s almost a year! Panic. Seems like forever and a day.
Starting something new can be a maddening and discouraging process. I want to chat a bit about the three things about the process, which is often hard to love. Failure, faith, and perseverance. We are often told to embrace the journey. While that is a noble thought, the muck during the journey can weigh you down something fierce.
I just heard an interview with Jessi Klein on Terry Gross’ show Fresh Air talking about getting an Emmy while having a three month-old baby and having to pump breast milk during the ceremony which nicely sums up why embracing the journey is necessary to happiness. “…Having a baby is really hard on a marriage. So things with my husband were just – I’ll just say they were very hard ’cause we were just so tired, and it’s so crazy. And I just suddenly felt very much like, oh, I won this Emmy, and tomorrow I’m getting on a plane and I’m going right back into my own little struggles.
And nothing is really different. Like, this was great but now it is over. And I just have to be back in my sort of currently overweight, milk-laden body and waking up at 2 in the morning and 4 in the morning. And it’s hard. And the Emmy is amazing, but all of this will continue. I think it just brought into very stark relief in the moment what would have been the truth no matter what I was doing. But it was very immediate, which is that this doesn’t really mean anything for your actual happiness or your life.”
the journey is the reward even if it doesn’t feel like it
We think when we get to the big award, reward, end game, whether it’s finishing a book, landing a big deal, selling a bunch of stuff, finding love, that suddenly the world will become rosier and all that ails us will fall away. Yet, happiness often comes on the heels of failure — though rarely soon enough, it seems.
You’ve heard the expression “Fail fast.” It’s about trying a bunch of new things and letting go of the ones that don’t work. So first I had to find people to call schools and organizations. I used Upwork and went through about four people before I found the two that consistently got results- i.e. they called the decision makers to set five-minute appointments for me to discuss the program. I failed fast with the callers by starting them all at once on different excel spread sheets for my target markets.
Failure number two. Schools are a hard sell. Most principals, counselors or PE teachers loved the program. Then it had to go to committee. Then through the budgeting process. Guess what? 99% of the schools couldn’t afford my program due to budget cuts or lack of funding. Many said that would have to get independent funding in order to implement the program. So, we moved on to organizations. Organizations totally got the concept and wanted the program. Problem? Funding. They were used to getting most of their programs free as they were mostly funded by other organizations or grants.
So, I started researching how to get grants. Getting a grant is a laborious, time-consuming and confusing process. In short you have to make sure your mission is in absolute synch with the grantor, then you typically have to earmark those who will get the funding. Which meant that I had to start getting commitments in writing about which organizations were really keen on using my program so I could list them in the grant.
Another problem with getting grants to fund the people who wanted the program is there are no guarantees that I’ll even get the grant!
So all that work could be for nothing.
I hired an expert for that to make sure that I was on the right track. But, after talking to many of the grantors, they told me that had hesitations about giving money to an unproven program — even though they loved the idea and said would go to bat for me.
My faith began to flag. Am I really going in the right direction? How many obstacles do I need to go through before I give up? So I turned to my friends. They told me to keep going. They said it was a much needed idea. They said to find a way in. They said hold fast. Today, a man in charge of programing for the Boys & Girls Clubs said he had faith in me and my program and that all girls need it. “Stay in touch. This is a great program.”
One of the things that I recommend to my clients and course participants when they aren’t getting any traction with the media is to tweak. If you send in a pitch or press release and no one is biting, try a twist. Approach your topic from another angle. Switch up the perspective. Go in the back door— a non-obvious angle that isn’t a direct pitch for your business, book, product, service or cause. Think small and get specific.
What seemed to spark real interest in the contacts I was speaking with is this idea of teens and college girls teaching each other. This is my big dream for my program to become self-sustaining in this way. So my business mentor said, “Let’s approach your course from this angle.” So I did.
I got immediate interest from a Boys & Girls Club that serves an at-risk community and already has volunteers that are groomed in community service through their Keystone program. Perfect.
The head of programming for a department of education said that she thinks she could wrangle 20 girls to train that could then be dispatched back to their schools. Fantastic.
Today, I talked to a man who works in five schools where Opioid addiction is rampant. When I told him about my vision he said, “I can’t believe you just said that. We have those girls at the ready and we’ve been wanting to do something like this the up their self-esteem.” Yes.
Keep your focus on the vision.
By focusing on my original vision, the big dream and bigger mission and slightly shifting the approach, I’m now getting a more enthusiastic response — because it directly taps into the organization’s bigger mission as well.
Am I still discouraged, downtrodden, despairing and weepy? Yes. I cried my eyes out last week, and sobbed on my sweetie’s shoulder, and starting thinking about tossing in the towel. Seriously. On other days, after making calls for hours and not reaching anyone who can make a decision or having people tell me that they get a similar program for free, I feel exhausted and hopeless and have the urge to gorge on cookies.
Then I think about all the time, energy, money and inspiration I put into this. And keep going.
I talked to Susan Kennedy yesterday (SARK) about my plight as she’s an expert in keeping a person’s creative spirits high. The advice she gave me was, “When I’m tempted to deflate in this absence, instead I’m going to fill myself with presence. I’m going to remind myself of my vision and certainty.”
Which all requires discipline and managing what I tell myself. After I bemoaned my plight I told Susan that I did believe that I could already feel that my program was instituted far and wide, helping girls all over the world — and that it had already happened and that I just needed to catch up with it. We talked about the fact that we have no idea how this program has touched people and where it will reach — now and in the future.
Does this mean I won’t have days when I feel it’s all hopeless. No. Like Jessi Klein I’ll still be mired in my own daily struggles, but thank God I don’t have to pump breast milk. When I imagine her life I think I may have gotten off easy. Though it doesn’t feel that way. I just have to get through this next patch, I tell myself. I will remember the discipline of keeping to my vision and certainty. And I invoke the question I’ve told you to ask yourself: “What is my next step?” That is my question. I keep following the answers, wherever they lead.
You can’t escape it. The ubiquitous upsell. No sooner have your gotten something for free or bought, there is more. You’ve just gotten something delicious – and now there might be more deliciousness right around the corner.
Of course I train all of my clients to offer an upsell in an online marketing campaign or funnel. We want to engage our followers and fans and then inspire them to invest – in themselves and in us.
And, on the flip side it can go too far. Like those endless sales cycle loops that ask you questions like, “Do you want to have more free time? No thanks.” Which makes you seem like an idiot. Like you made the wrong choice and you may live to regret it.
You can’t get away from the upsell, no matter where you go. We’re here in Bali and went to a little local massage place about an hour’s walk from Ubud (the town that Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about in her book, Eat, Pray, Love). As soon as we sat down in the tiny, bright green reception area to peruse the massage menu the owner was hovering over us pointing to the expensive packages.
Susan Harrow and Clare Barry in Ubud at the Yoga Barn
Enter the ugly upsell.
It was ugly because she had no idea what we wanted – just what she wanted. More money. The package she wanted us to get included a facial (which I can’t stand) and dinner. We were on our way to a restaurant so while we were interested in eating, but having a meal in a spa that was the size of a broom closet and had a bit of a rancid oil smell didn’t appeal. She kept pushing. “You come back and get package.”
A beautiful upsell inquires, engages, entices. It shows you glorious pictures of a place like Clare Barry and Alex Franzen’s upcoming London retreat. (Sign up in the next 2 weeks and get a 10% savings with coupon code Alex10 at checkout for either the Create a Tiny Book workshop or the Reviving Retreat in London next month).
It tells you about all the wonderful feeling you’ll have – exploring yourself or breaking bread with others. A beautiful upsell transports you to your future self. It plants a little flag on where you are now.
Then moves that little flag to a different, imaginable spot — after you partake of our offering here is the transformed you. The happier, lighter, more present you or ___________________________. (Fill in the blank to the promise of your beautiful upsell).
The bottom line…
Upsells do not have to be ugly. They can be uplifting, energizing and quite glorious.
How to do an upsell the right way
This is not an upsell – it’s (hopefully) a beautiful offer:
My Next New Client – You?
Some recent clients have asked me for help to redo their websites, create webinars + speaking topics, media train them for local and national TV + documentaries, create TV segments, and get their book proposal done. If any of this sounds like you — or if you have something else in mind, hop on over here and tell me a bit about yourself. I have space for one new client. I hope it’s you!
I just read a woman’s special report that disparaged one of my colleague’s tag lines saying, “I feel bad for those who’ve built a brand around this message.” (My colleague is a wonderful AND successful person by the way. And her brand is working just fine.). This is a poor publicity strategy.
This gal’s special report blasted me with her loud clothes, wildly colored hair, and audacious language. She made it a point to shock me. Granted, that’s HER brand, and people who resonate with in-your-face brashness will be her perfect clients.
But please don’t think you have to imitate this way of being to get media coverage, fans, followers or clients. And please never disparage anyone’s brand to promote your own. I once had a client who said she chose me over another colleague precisely because I wasn’t as “slick and sound bitey.”
There is a place for everyone, no matter how shy or small you feel. No matter how big and bold you are. No matter if you’re quiet and thoughtful. No matter your race, ethnicity or point of view. We need us all.
Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken. ~Oscar Wilde
And know that often the loud ones get attention more quickly, because, well, they are jumping up and down, blowing a bullhorn and calling attention to themselves, while you made be sitting, listening, pondering and seeking to understand others. As long as you’re sitting tall and centered in your own way of being that’s fine. Sometimes, quieting your voice makes it easier to be heard.
And, if you wish you were other, or want to shift your life in a big way before taking center stage – in the media or online, heed the advice of my dear friend Sherry who shows you how to live the life you want in the now — just as you are.
You might also like:
• Is authenticity overrated? Can you be too real? Find out here.
• Need to get prepped for publicity? This is for you.
I was hit repeatedly at an Aikido training over the weekend. And it was an honor.
I was at a seminar from a Japanese Sensei who doesn’t come here often. It was considered a special occasion and rare opportunity for training. Some Japanese Senseis have harsher teaching methods than we are used to here. That is an understatement.
My teacher, Hans Goto Sensei, is gentle, but firm. He doesn’t single you out if you’re doing something incorrectly. Rather, when he sees that some of us are having trouble during a class, he stops, asks for a volunteer (typically, a high-ranking black belt or senior student) and takes apart the technique step-by-step so we can do it more easily.
In Japan, the sensei will yell “Dame!” which loosely translated means a combination of, “bad, dumb, wrong.” Or “no good; not serving its purpose; useless; broken.” Many times during training at Bay Marin Aikido, Hans Goto Sensei would say that if a teacher in Japan doesn’t “Dame” or correct you, they don’t care about you. So it’s good to get attention from them — even if it’s in the form of a “Dame.”
My “Dame” came during jo (staff) practice where the Japanese Sensei wanted me to use my body more and to extend the thrust. He came over to me and started yelling in Japanese, demonstrating how I was doing it wrongly and showing me the correct technique. All before the translator came over, who asked that everyone stop training to watch the “lesson.” There were 100 eyes on me as the Sensei was hitting me above my elbow each time he made point. Hitting me hard. I’m not sure he used the word “wimpy” to describe my form, but it was something close to that.
I kept attempting to make the corrections he “suggested” without success so he kept hitting and yelling. I kept my focus on improving instead of thinking of anything else. I had seen the other black belts he’d “Damed” turn bright red and start to tremble. I was determined not to do that, but to maintain my equanimity and dignity. Some people in my dojo had already told me how he’d made one person cry when they visited his dojo in Japan. Unless my arm or leg was snapped in two, this wasn’t going to be me.
When I told a friend about this she said, “At the first hit, I’d be out of there. Off to get a latte and shopping for shoes.” Of course a part of me wanted out of there. The other part welcomed the opportunity to polish my spirit. As Rumi says, “Criticism polishes my mirror.” My work will be done when nothing can scare, annoy, irritate, anger, or ruffle me. That is a long way off.
This is the same kind of training you’ll need for media interviews so you can stay “on message.” When a host or other guests “Dames” you you’ll be able to keep your equanimity and say what you came to say to your audience with ease and grace. It’s what I share in my sound bite course minus the hitting and yelling. Which you can get for the next 7 days for 50% off by using coupon code: BITE.
I’ve just finished creating a live course on verbal self-defense for girls. It is available to license. If this is something that your school, organization, or club is interested in please jet me an email. If you want to make sure that your daughter avoids the Trump Pu—sy grab, this would be the training for her.
I think I resisted it because talking came so natural to me. And I did lots of other harder things first. I created webinars, special reports, ebooks, courses. I trained to get my black belt in Aikido.
I got sidetracked by pleasures too…
I took a weekly writing class. I watched long hours of Longmire and The Good Wife (delicious!). I went to Hawaii and Bali.
But, I finally hunkered down and holed up. Spent a few weeks writing, editing, recording, consulting with my VA Kelly about all the nitty gritty stuff that needed to happen in the back-end. Worked with a great team.
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i’m just a regular guy, nothing special—i just happen to be an artist. as an artist, i assumed i needed to be in a gallery for people to see my work. yet galleries seemed to shut me out and preferred my bio to be much more impressive. i figured if galleries didn’t want my work, then maybe no one else did either. doors weren’t opening for me, and i wasn’t sure what to do next.
i began to frantically look for new avenues, hidden pathways or mysterious portals to show my work—anything to keep my dream alive.
i sought off on the seemingly impossible journey of self promotion.
i was scared. nervous sweat. the kind that smells different. bad. the kind where you can’t stand to be next to yourself. what if this doesn’t work. what if i’m exposed?
kent youngstrom publicity for artists
i really don’t think i can find enough people who like what i do to pay my bills on a consistent basis. there are so many real artists out there. they are intimidating.
artists are cool. i’m not that cool. i pretend to be, but i’m really just a dork in what not to wear clothing. i’m really not that much of an artist in the way i was taught to think of one. my figure drawings would fit right in the fifth grade art hallway. no one would know the difference. can i call myself an artist if i can’t even draw a horse properly?
there was no miracle red button to push. i had to try things i was not comfortable with at the time.
that dream was, and still is, the easy part. i started to realize i needed to stop fantasizing about what i wanted and make a conscious decision to use the skills i had to pursue the next stage. i had art—it was time to use it.
i set up a trade with a photographer friend: i gave her some art, and she took some great pictures of my work. i worked with people like susan + a few of her friends to develop fun + snappy email introduction that got attention without screaming, “look at me, i’m awesome.”
the epically awesome alexandra franzen who is a friend of both susan and i got me on the right path with this.
mine sounds like this. (don’t be lazy – make you own – this is mine.)
i’m kenT and i’m an artist (but not the tortured kind.)
i create one-of-a kind-paintings. you may have seen my work in cb2, on sale sites such as gilt.com, or popping up in celebrity home photos in people magazine. all from my charlotte, nc studio.
i’m writing today to send an avalanche of appreciation in your direction (warning: gushing praise, straight ahead.) i love what you’re up to, and i’ve been reveling in your inspiring work for quite some time. your inspiring x of perfect pictures prompted me to swing into your inbox with an ever-so-slightly-coward request.
i want to work with you on something. anything.
much like peanut butter + chocolate, gin + tonic (or bacon + anything), i’m inclined to believe “we are better, together.”
i can edit this when appropriate and make it personal as to what i would like to work with them on. it does not always equal a yes to working with me. but more often than not it does get a response.
i set up a consistent presence on my website and social outlets. i started to broadcast a manifesto as much as a body of work.
each time, my portfolio grew and someone else noticed. i started small. small became a little larger each time.
i have taken small into painting editions limited pieces for cb2, running my total to over 2,000 original paintings; brushed, boxed + shipped to their warehouse since 2012. i made new partnerships with vendors like minted, icanvas, bezar, and jace lipstein of grungygentleman. i continued to work with great people at gilt, deny designs, apartment 2b and lulu and georgia.
a few folks have contacted me to let me know they purchased a canvas at marshall’s home goods. others phoned to say they saw a piece on hgtv.
collaborations are a spectacular way to grow your following. each person or company you work with will market your work to their tribe. look to work with people and companies that align themselves with what you do and what you stand for.
bottom line, i learned that no matter your talent, a magic fairy is not going to drop by your home, studio, or secret lair and volunteer to make you a success.
my advice: my two cents to get you kick started: start with great photography of your work or work that your tribe is drawn to. show it.post it. link it. pin it.work it. make contacts. keep in touch.
get off the couch.
work your backside off.
show up on time.
soon enough, people will know who you are.
kent youngstrom how to make a living as an artist
kent youngstrom is an artist, but not the tortured kind. he is on a mission to make the walls or your home, office or secret lair as amazing as you are. . .
be something. if you want to make something. releases april 18 on amazon.com and . . .
is a pop top energy drink spiked with caffeine laden words that are calming to the soul, while at the same time capable of spurring volcanic eruptions of energy and frenzied moments of accomplishment
be something. if you want to make something encourages makers to stay in the moment and allow ingenuity to be the pace car. each short blurb hands over an uncooked account of an artists rocket fuel fast, can’t stop, won’t stop lucky, sometimes mixed martial arts bloodied adventure. it humorously highlights the speed bumps that were approached way too fast and encourages the reader to push past the exit ramps desperately calling for companionship and accelerate toward the reward on the horizon.
be something. if you want to make something runs over the big scary words of the business world like “copyright” and “business plan” and spits out what makes real sense in the life of doing more of what you love for a living.